Saturday, January 30, 2010

No News is Good News

I quit watching the news over a decade ago (because Los Angeles anchors categorize naked celebrity twat as news, whereas I, do not), and broke my long-standing addiction to NPR when I could no longer stand the sound of the president's voice.  Several months ago, I took it a step further, and cancelled my exhorbitantly expensive cable subscription. Funnily enough, I only miss four shows, and two of them were no longer on the air, anyway. When the mood strikes, I watch them online, but am mostly just fine in my televisionless world.   

I realize this choice is not for everyone, but for me, cold turkey news-withdrawal has lowered my stress levels considerably.  I used to really believe in being informed (and I still do make sure I have the facts before I vote, I just don't get those facts from TV and radio), but I find that there is an intraversable amount of shit that I don't need to muck through in the average newsday. And not only do I not need to know it, it often makes me feel actively bad about myself.

These days, most of my news is filtered through Facebook stati and comments.  Sad, I know, but it works for me. I am very fortunate, and have an extremely diverse group of friends. With many of said friends, the current hot news item seems to be the death of J.D. Salinger.

At the risk of sounding obsessive, I will admit here that I have read each of his published works five times or more.  The Glass family, especially, is very real to me, and I am convinced (having read nothing about it, either way) that P.T. Anderson based the character of Stanley Spector in the film, "Magnolia" on Seymour Glass. On all the Glass boys, really. A brilliant, heartbreaking amalgam of pressure, genius, and uber-awareness.

Having never been burdened with the albatross of fame myself (only occasionally being recognized on the streets of Alabama or California from stage roles) , I have difficulty empathizing with Salinger's nearly career-long choice to utterly withdraw. For me, interaction with others, even if the interaction is comprised mainly of me observing them, is what inspires me to think and create. I can certainly understand the need for privacy, and I can also understand the urge to protect one's creative offspring. What I can't understand is devoting so much of one's energy to guarding one's existing works vs. creating new ones.

I know he reportedly wrote everyday of his life, and like everyone else, I am salivating at the possibility of seeing what the hell those Glasses have been up to.  I just believe that it takes more energy to jealously guard than to generously share.  I also feel that art is just the expression of the human condition, and those that are real good at expressin' should do so.  It is the last vestige of my Baptist upbringing, I am sure, but I definitely believe in the "Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine" principle.  Don't hide it under a bushel, no!

I have a little resentment for Jerome David Salinger - one for being so stingy with his marvelous gift, and two for making me feel guilty about the fact that I am a teensy bit glad he's dead (Don't read me like that, I mean, he did go painlessly in his sleep at a ripe old 91, and vigorously controlled almost his entire adult life to his own satisfaction), if this means I will get to learn more about my beloved Glasses.

It's too soon to call, but if J.D.'s death does lead to the release of some heretofore unseen material, I just hope it doesn't mirror my Cat Stevens experience. I love his music, and by the time I really got into him (in the 80's), he had already converted to Islam, changed his name to Yusuf, and eschewed his guitar.  I am all for folks seeking answers (Salinger also dabbled in multiple faiths and "isms" according to one of his ex wives), until it affects ME. Thirty years later, ol' Yusuf decided that God was OK with him making music after all, and released an album, "Another Cup."  It sucked. So, fingers crossed that J.D.'s light didn't dim sequestered as it was in his drafty (I have no evidence to support this, but I envision it as drafty) Cornish home.